Evaluating the implementation and impact of a pharmacy technician-supported medicines administration service designed to reduce omitted doses in hospitals: a qualitative study

Elizabeth Seston, Darren Ashcroft, Elizabeth Lamerton, Lindsay Harper, Richard Keers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Of the various types of medication administration error that occur in hospitals, dose omissions are consistently reported as among the most common. It has been suggested that greater involvement from pharmacy teams could help address this problem. A pilot service, called pharmacy TECHnician supported MEDicines administration (TECHMED), was introduced in an English NHS hospital for a four-week period in order to reduce preventable medication dose omissions. The objective of this study was to evaluate the implementation, delivery and impact of the pilot TECHMED service using qualitative methods.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews with pharmacy technicians, nursing staff and senior management involved with the pilot service were undertaken to evaluate TECHMED. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the framework approach, guided by Weiss’s Theory Based Evaluation model.
Results: Twenty-two stakeholder interviews were conducted with ten ward-based pharmacy technicians, nine nurses and three members of senior management. Most technicians performed a range of activities in line with the service specification, including locating drugs from a variety of sources, and identified situations where they had prevented missing doses. Nurses reported positive impacts of TECHMED on workload. However, not all technicians fully adhered to the service specification in regard to directly following nursing staff during each medication round, citing reasons related to productivity or perceived intrusiveness towards nursing staff. Some participants also reported a perceived lack of impact of TECHMED on medicine omissions. Seventeen of the twenty-two interviewees supported an extension of the service. There were however, concerns about the impact on technician workload and some participants advocated support for targeted service extension to wards/rounds with high schedule dose volumes and omitted dose rates.
Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that the implementation of a pharmacy technician-supported medicines administration scheme to reduce omitted doses may be acceptable to staff in an NHS hospital, and that issues with service fidelity, staff resource/capacity and perceived interventions to avoid dose omissions have important implications for the feasibility of extending the service. The study has identified targets for future development in relation to individual and system factors to improve operationalisation of technician-led initiatives to reduce medicines omissions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2019


  • pharmacy technician
  • patient safety
  • omitted dose
  • medication error
  • qualitative study


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